West Seattle Bridge and Transportation Update; Delridge Farmers’ Market Opens May 14th at Hope Academy; Hiring the City’s Next Aging & Disability Services Division Director; Standing for Abortion Rights; Public Safety and Human Services Committee Update; Advocating for Federal Action for RV Residents and Others Experiencing Homelessness; Comment Letter to Police Monitor; Virtual Office Hours


West Seattle Bridge and Transportation Update

Earlier this week SDOT reported to the City Council that:

“The three pours for the north girder are complete; the three structural pours for the south girder are next. After the final structural pour the contractor can revisit the schedule and provide greater clarity on when their work will be complete.”

SDOT made some modifications for the anchorage systems this week to prepare for the south girder pours. On Thursday, SDOT let us know that there wasn’t a concrete pour this week and instead the contractor is preparing for two final structural concrete pours, not three.  SDOT believes that though these last pours are coming in on a little different sequence than we had anticipated a couple weeks ago, we’re essentially on the same trajectory towards completing the delivery and pouring of concrete.

Carbon fiber wrapping and epoxy crack injections are complete on the inside of the bridge.  Not this work is continuing at the exterior of the bridge.

One issue that emerged recently is the presence of a falcon nest on the bridge. The project environmental team created a falcon management plan that has allowed work to continue around Pier 15, while ensuring the next remains undisturbed during construction.

Below is a what a recently poured concrete support block looks like; the post-tensioning cables that prevent cracking will pass through the two holes:

Wooden forms are used to mold the concrete; after about a week, after the concrete fully sets, the forms are ready to come off. Here’s a time lapse video of what removal of the wooden forms looks like.

SDOT is also beginning the process of replacing the concrete surface of the Fauntleroy Expressway, the structure that connects the West Seattle Bridge to Fauntleroy Way. This involves grinding away half an inch of the bridge’s deck in preparation for adding new concrete in the future, and ensuring the roadway is in good condition when traffic reopens on the bridge.

Spokane Street (Low) Bridge

Here’s a graphic showing the work completed, under construction and coming soon for the Spokane Street (Low) Bridge. The contractor expects to hoist work platforms over the first two weekends in June. This will allow for carbon-fiber wrapping and epoxy injections, as on the West Seattle Bridge.

Reconnect West Seattle

The West Seattle Bridge Agreement with the Port of Seattle includes commitments for SDOT to designate parking for drayage trucks. SDOT will restripe 22 parking spaces on 11th Ave SW on Harbor Island to accommodate larger vehicles and is drafting legislation to allow for the enforceable designation of truck tractor-only parking, that will be sent to the City Council.

SDOT notes nine more projects will be delivered after the High Bridge reopens:

  • SW Holden St & Highland Park Way SW permanent signal (the current one is temporary)
  • 4th Ave SW / Olsen Way SW / SW Roxbury St Vision Zero intersection improvements
  • Myers Way S / 1st Ave S / Olsen Pl SW curb ramps (traffic mitigation)
  • Chelan 5-way curb ramps (traffic mitigation)
  • 12th Ave SW and SW Holden signal / removal of flashing beacon at 11th Ave SW and neighborhood greenways wayfinding signage (Highland Park Home Zone)
  • Dallas Ave S / 14th Ave S half signal (2021 RWS project)
  • Corson/Bailey/Michigan St intersection improvements (Georgetown Home Zone)
  • West Marginal PBL (2021 RWS project)
  • Duwamish Permanent signal and sidewalk (RWS project)

SDOT notes upcoming construction for this week in West Seattle and South Park:

On Saturday, we’ll be replacing three traffic signs on SW Spokane St in the eastbound direction near 26th Ave SW. We anticipate this work to begin as early as 7 AM and conclude by 5 PM. We’ll need to reduce the two travel lanes to a single lane and there may be delays for people driving.  

On Sunday, from 7 AM to 5 PM we will be working in South Park on the Duwamish River Trail from S Trenton St to S Henderson St (east of WA 509) to repair root damage on the trail. The trail will be closed while we make these upgrades, however there will be an escort available for those that need to travel through the area. This work is part of the Reconnect West Seattle Home Zone in South Park

Delridge Farmers’ Market Opens May 14th at Hope Academy

The South Delridge Farmers’ Market launches its second season on May 14th – and this year it will open twice a month, with a larger group of vendors!  The Market started last summer, and puts fresh, local food produced by Black, Indigenous, and People of Color-owned businesses directly into the hands of neighbors.

With the goal of supporting the development of small businesses in mind, vendors are not charged a stall fee to participate and are provided with resources, equipment, and technical support as they build their capacity to sell at farmers markets.  The market is a project of nonprofit African Community Housing & Development.

Everyone is welcome to attend.  Robust food access programs are available, including SNAP/EBT, WIC/Senior FMNP checks, SNAP Market Match, and Fresh Bucks. Free bags of produce will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.

 

Hiring the City’s Next Aging & Disability Services Division Director

Seattle Human Services is hiring a key position: The Aging & Disability Services Division Director is responsible for the overall direction and management of the Area Agency on Aging, which is charged with advocacy, strategic planning, and system development, and administering contracted and direct services for older adults and adults with disabilities who live in Seattle/King County.  Learn more and apply here.

Standing for Abortion Rights

On Tuesday, I joined my Council colleagues to approve a resolution that states Seattle City Council’s support for access to abortion and the full range of reproductive healthcare.  This is an issue which is deeply personal and impactful, and I believe that Council has a role to play in the crisis to come with the expected overturn of Roe v. Wade.  As a starting point, I have inquired with Public Health whether any City dollars currently support abortion providers, or whether funds support clinics that make referrals that facilitate comprehensive women’s health care, including all reproductive options.

If the Supreme Court issues a majority opinion consistent with the draft authored by Justice Alito, the shift in abortion rights will be among the most significant the Court has ever issued, depriving half the nation of a fundamental, constitutional right that has been held by millions of pregnant people for nearly 50 years.  Pregnant people of color will bear the brunt of further abortion restrictions with higher poverty rates and more difficulties traveling out of state for an abortion.

Here are some of my remarks:

As chair of the committee with oversight of public health and human services, my office added language to this resolution, including:

  • Lifting up Sister Song’s concept of reproductive justice, and acknowledging that there can be no choice without access to reproductive healthcare.
  • A series of recitals that acknowledge limitations to access even here in Washington, caused by almost 50% of our hospital beds being in religiously affiliated hospitals, which may refuse to provide the full range of healthcare that patients require.
  • An intention to consider action that would ensure patients are informed of the reproductive healthcare available to them at their healthcare facility
  • Support for the state Keep Our Care Act (SB5688/HB1809), which would prevent health system consolidations from moving forward if they negatively impact communities’ access to affordable quality care, including reproductive, end-of-life, and gender affirming care.

My office also consulted ACLU-WA, Pro Choice Washington, Northwest Abortion Access Fund, Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates, and Legal Voice, and developed an amendment based on their recommendations.  I felt it was essential that these advocates and experts, long on the frontline of reproductive justice, had the opportunity to review a resolution related to abortion rights at this critical moment.

My amendment, which was unanimously approved:

  • changed some gendered language;
  • added a recital about HB 1851, which the state legislature passed this year and preserves a pregnant individual’s ability to access abortion care; and
  • requested that any funds Council may choose to appropriate in the future would be allocated to “organizations that deliver programs and services in support of abortion care and access, such as the Northwest Abortion Access Fund and independent abortion clinics.”

I want to thank, in particular, Roxana Gomez and Leah Rutman from ACLU – WA, and Kia Guarino from Pro Choice Washington, for convening a group of healthcare providers and advocates at very short notice to offer their feedback.

Public Safety and Human Services Committee Update

On Tuesday the Public Safety and Human Services Committee that I chair met.

The first item considered was a presentation from the Mayor’s Office and SPD about ongoing work to determine whether 911 call types that the National Institute of Criminal Justice Reform (NICJR) identified, in a study commissioned by SPD, are suitable for non-sworn officer response. This was the first quarterly response to a Council request adopted along with the 2022 budget.

With more that 300 sworn officers having left SPD in the last two years, it’s important that current SPD officers be able to focus on work that only they can do.

Council started this effort when, in August 2020, Council requested that SPD undertake the NICJR 911 call response analysis, and in October 2020 the former Mayor issued an Executive Order to “identify areas of SPD response that can be transitioned to civilian and community-based response.”

Last year the National Institute for Criminal Justice Reform report, commissioned by SPD, identified 174 call types as candidates for alternative responses. At a briefing in July of last year, the Executive noted “up to 12% of calls for service can be responded to without SPD involvement in the near-term” (my emphasis added).

SPD agreed that 101 other call types could potentially be appropriate for an alternative response on a longer time horizon.  They are using a Risk Managed Demand analysis to go into additional detail about 911 calls beyond the earlier report, including how the call was resolved.

The high-level presentation at the PSHS committee notes the goals to classify calls at various levels from low to high impact/risk, and by severity, and likelihood of outcomes.

The Mayor’s Office has committed to a collaborative approach on this work, involving Council and external stakeholders to check SPD’s work and assumptions of risk associated with not sending an officer to certain types of 911 call.

The second item heard in PSHS committee this week was a resolution sponsored by Councilmember Nelson. As passed by the PSHS committee, the resolution is 1. an expression of support for SPD to develop a staffing incentives and recruitment support program, and 2. Council intent to consider an ordinance in the future to allow implementation of a staffing incentives program once it is developed and proposed.

Mayor Harrell has indicated his administration “continues to develop a comprehensive plan to restore police staffing.”  The resolution, in essence, says that the Council welcomes receiving and considering that proposal when it is ready.

I appreciate his statement that “We know that reaching national best practice staffing levels for SPD can’t be achieved solely with incentives. Progress requires a holistic effort rooted in our shared commitment to make this a place where officers feel welcome and supported – and where all neighbors feel safe.”

I voted in support, and the resolution passed with a 4-1 vote, and moves to the Full Council on May 24th.

I sponsored the third item before the committee, resulting from a request the Council made during the 2022 budget where the Council requested a report from the Executive on a citywide hiring incentive program, analyzing vacancy issues among front line workers, causing a service issue with the public, or inhibiting a department from fulfilling a core function.

The report indicates there are several positions that departments struggle to fill that are important to city business, including police officers, carpenters, truck drivers, civil engineers and 911 dispatchers.

Consequently, the bill requires the Department of Human Resources (SDHR) to amend its personnel rules to provide appointing authorities greater flexibility to pay for moving expenses for new hires; current personnel rules limit this flexibility to only new hires in the highest pay bands, such as department directors.  If we are recruiting new hires to move to Seattle, because of the same hiring difficulties experienced by jurisdictions all over the county, shouldn’t we pay for their moving costs?  Why would we offer that perk only to the highest paid managers and directors?

The second part of the bill modifies the proviso on spending for the Seattle Police Department to allow SPD to use their funds for this purpose.

Release of funding to pay for the relocation costs of recruits is only necessary for SPD.  It is not needed for other city departments, because other city departments are allowed to use existing funds from position vacancies once SDHR changes the rules allowing hiring authorities to pay the relocation expenses of recruits citywide.  Because of the proviso on SPD’s funds, that is not the case for SPD and to give SPD the ability to use the new relocation rule, we had to modify the proviso.

The proviso modification also allows SPD to fund a recruiter for SPD, a national ad campaign to market police officer positions to potential candidates, and a national search to hire a permanent Chief of Police.

Regarding the funding noted here, these are not new funds for SPD.  They are restricted funds, already in SPD’s budget to fund salaries necessary to support SPD’s hiring plan to hire 125 officers the Council funded in the 2022 budget, now modified to 98 hires.  Releasing this funding works to assist with that now reduced hiring plan, which makes sense, given the earlier Council action to fully fund the hiring plan.

This bill also passed 4-1 and moves to the Full Council for a May 24 vote.

Advocating for Federal Action for RV Residents and Others Experiencing Homelessness

On Monday, I met with Jeff Olivet, Director of the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH), to discuss unsheltered homelessness in Seattle and urge federal action.  The USICH is the only federal agency with a sole mission focused on preventing and ending homelessness in America.  USICH is in the process of developing a new Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness.  This meeting was an opportunity to continue advocating for programs and funds that help people experiencing homelessness here in Seattle to find safe housing.  We need our federal partners to step up.

I shared the importance of providing safe, dignified shelter that allows people to stay with their families, pets, and belongings, while waiting for housing to become available.  We can’t return to the unhealthy and unsafe days of large open spaces with dozens of mats on a floor.

I also advocated for more funds directed to affordable housing, rather than tenant-based housing vouchers.  With the high cost and competitive rental market in Seattle, people who receive federal housing vouchers have trouble locating apartments that will accept their voucher.  In Seattle a voucher, long considered the “golden ticket” to stable housing, no longer guarantees an end to homelessness.

Finally, I urged Director Olivet to advance solutions that will help RV residents leave homelessness behind in particular.  Many RV residents don’t consider themselves homeless and asking them to abandon their greatest asset – their home – is a hard sell when the alternative is a shelter.  We need USICH to provide leadership for this unique population – guidelines and best practices, as well as model programs and funding.  We can’t continue lumping this population in with car or encampment residents – they need unique solutions.  This guidance is particularly important as the King County Regional Homelessness Authority considers funding applications for implementations of a new RV Safe Lot program.

In addition, another shooting at Andover yesterday, near the RV encampment there and SDOT’s announcement yesterday that resuming full parking enforcement for any vehicle that has remained in one place unmoved for longer than 72 hours also creates additional urgency for receiving this guidance from USICH.  More from SDOT on their announcement yesterday:

Seattle Public Utilities continues to lead the RV Remediation program, which focuses on cleaning up and disposing of debris and waste around RVs to ensure public health and safety. Days prior to a scheduled remediation event, SPU and parking enforcement staff engage with people staying in RVs to make them aware of the upcoming clean-up activity. SDOT will continue to work with SPU to prioritize the locations of these clean-up efforts over time.

The first step of enforcement will continue to be leaving official warning notices on vehicles, giving the owner time to move them voluntarily and avoid enforcement action. If it appears that people may be living in one of the vehicles, they will receive information about assistance, support services, and resources.

Comment Letter to Police Monitor

During the last few months, the Community Police Commission has hosted the Police Monitor overseeing the Consent Decree presenting regarding Preliminary Assessments regarding crisis intervention, stops and detentions, and use of force. The Monitor has also been receiving public comments about the preliminary assessments, designed to inform the submittal he sends to the judge overseeing the Consent Decree.

I submitted a comment letter to the Monitor addressing these three areas, touching on subjects such as alternative mental health response, demographics for use of force in crisis intervention, and disparities in traffic stops and use of force.

Thank you to the Community Police Commission for their analysis, which helped inform my drafting of this letter.

Virtual Office Hours

On Friday, May 27, I will be hosting virtual office hours between 2pm and 6pm, with the last meeting of the day beginning at 5:30pm.

Due to the nature of virtual office hours, please contact my scheduler Alex Clardy ([email protected]) to receive the call-in information and schedule a time.

Here is a list of my tentatively scheduled office hours.  We are working towards in person office hours…hopefully soon! These are subject to change.

  • Friday, June 24, 2022
  • Friday, July 29, 2022
  • Friday, August 19, 2022
  • Friday, September 30, 2022
  • Friday, October 28, 2022
  • Friday, December 16, 2022

Article Source: News from City of Seattle